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racism

Say It Out Loud – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

I usually and mostly talk about technology. But technology is so far away from my thought right now. I don’t feel that I can afford to worry about Internet surveillance or how to protect privacy at this moment. Not that they are unimportant. Such a worry is real and deserves our attention and investigation. But at a time like this when there are so many reports of public incidences of hatred, bigotry, harassment, and violence reported on university and college campuses, on streets, and in many neighborhoods coming in at an alarming pace, I don’t find myself reflecting on how we can use technology to deal with this problem. For the problem is so much bigger.

There are people drawing a swastika at a park. The ‘Whites only’ and ‘Colored’ signs were put up over water fountains in a Florida school. A Muslim student was threatened with a lighter. Asian-American women are being assaulted. Hostile acts targeting minority students are taking place on college campuses. A black female student was shoved off the sidewalk and called the ‘N’ word at Baylor University. Newt Gingrich called for a House committee for Un-American Activities. The Ku Klux Klan is openly holding a rally. The list goes on and on.

Photo from http://www.wftv.com/news/local/investigation-underway-after-2-racist-signs-posted-above-water-fountains-at-first-coast-high-school/466146633

Photo from http://www.wftv.com/news/local/investigation-underway-after-2-racist-signs-posted-above-water-fountains-at-first-coast-high-school/466146633

We are justified to be freaking out. I suspect this is a deal breaker to not just Democrats, not just Clinton supporters, but a whole lot more people. Not everyone who voted for Donald Trump endorse the position that women, people of color, Muslims, LGBT, and all other minority groups deserve and should be deprived of the basic human right to be not publicly threatened, harassed, and assaulted, I hope. I am sure that many who voted for Donald Trump do support diversity, equity, and inclusion as important and non-negotiable values. I believe that many who voted for Donald Trump do not want a society where some of their family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors have to live in constant fear for their physical safety at minimum. There are very many white people who absolutely condemn bigotry, threat, hatred, discrimination, harassment, and violence directed at minorities and give their unwavering support to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The problem is that I don’t hear it said loudly enough, clearly enough, publicly enough.

I realized that we – myself included – do not say this enough.

One of my fellow librarians, Steve, wrote this on his Facebook wall after the election.

I am a 56 year old white guy. … I go out into the world today and I’m trying to hold a look on my face that says I don’t hate you black people, Hispanic people, gay people, Muslim people. I mean you no harm. I don’t want to deport you or imprison you. You are my brothers and sisters. I want for you all of the benefits, the rights, the joys (such as they are) that are afforded to everybody else in our society. I don’t think this look on my face is effective. Why should they trust me? You can never APPEAR to be doing the right thing. It requires DOING the right thing.

Of course, Steve doesn’t want to harm me because I am not white, I know. I am 100 % positive that he wouldn’t assault me because I am female. But by stating this publicly (I mean as far as his FB friends can see the post), he made a difference to me. Steve is not Republican. But I would feel so much better if people I know tell me the same thing whether they are Democrat or Republican. And I think it will make a huge difference to others when we all say this together.

Sometimes, saying isn’t much. But right now, saying it aloud can mean everything. If you support those who belong to minority groups but don’t say it out loud, how would they know it? Because right now, nothing is obvious other than there is a lot of hate and violence towards minorities.

At this point, which candidate you voted for doesn’t matter. What matters is whether you will condone open hatred and violence towards minorities and women, thereby making it acceptable in our society. There is a lot at stake here, and this goes way beyond party politics.

Publicly confirming our continued support for and unwavering commitment to diversity is a big deal. People who are being insulted, threatened, harassed, and assaulted need to hear it. And when we say this together loudly enough, clearly enough, explicitly enough, it will deafen the voice of hatred, bigotry, and intolerance and chase it away to the margins of our society again.

So I think I am going to say this whenever I have a chance whether formally or informally whether it is in a written form or in a conversation. If you are a librarian, you should say this to your library users. If you are a teacher, you should say this to your students. If you run a business, you need to say this to your employees and customers. If you manage a team at work, tell your team. Say this out loud to your coworkers, friends, family, neighbors, and everyone you interact with.

“I support all minorities and stand for diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

“I object to and will not condone the acts of harassment, violence, hatred, and threats directed at minorities.”

“I will not discriminate anyone based upon their ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, disability, political views, socio-economic backgrounds, or religious beliefs.”

We cannot allow diversity, equity, and inclusion to become minority opinions. And it is up to us to keep it mainstream and to make it prevail. Say it aloud and act on it.

In times like this, many of us look to institutions that we belong to, the organizations we work for, professionally participate in, or personally support. We expect them to reconfirm the very basic values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Since I work for a university, I have been looking up and reading statements from higher education institutions. So far, not a great number of universities have made public statements confirming their continued support for diversity. I am sure more are on the way. But I expected more of them would come out more promptly. This is unfortunate because many of them openly expressed their support for diversity and even include diversity in their values, mission, and goals.

If your organization hasn’t already confirmed their support for these values and expressed their commitment to provide safety for all minorities, ask for it. You may even be in a position to actually craft and issue one.

For those in need of right words to express your intention clearly, here are some good examples below.

“The University of California is proud of being a diverse and welcoming place for students, faculty, and staff with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.  Diversity is central to our mission.  We remain absolutely committed to supporting all members of our community and adhering to UC’s Principles Against Intolerance.  As the Principles make clear, the University ‘strives to foster an environment in which all are included’ and ‘all are given an equal opportunity to learn and explore.’  The University of California will continue to pursue and protect these principles now and in the future, and urges our students, faculty, staff, and all others associated with the University to do so as well.” –  University of California

“Our responsibility is to remain committed to education, discovery and intellectual honesty – and to diversity, equity and inclusion. We are at our best when we come together to engage respectfully across our ideological differences; to support ALL who feel marginalized, threatened or unwelcome; and to pursue knowledge and understanding, as we always have, as the students, faculty and staff of the University of Michigan.” – University of Michigan

“Northwestern is committed to being a welcoming and inclusive community for all, regardless of their beliefs, and I assure you that will not change.” – Northwestern University

“As a Catholic university, Clarke will not step away from its many efforts to heighten our awareness of the individuals and groups who are exclude and marginalized in so many ways and to take action for their protection and inclusion.  Today, I call on us as a community to step up our efforts to promote understanding and inclusion and to reach out to those among us who are feeling further disenfranchised, fearful and confused as a result of the election.” – Clarke University

“As President, I need to represent all of RIT, and I therefore do not express preferences for political candidates. I do feel it important, however, to represent and reinforce RIT’s shared commitment to the value of inclusive diversity. I have heard from many in our community that the result of the recent election has raised concerns from those in our minority populations, those who come from immigrant families, those from countries outside of the U.S., those in our LGBTQIA+ community, those who practice Islam, and even those in our female population about whether they should be concerned for their safety and well-being as a result of the horrific discourse that accompanied the presidential election process and some of the specific views and proposals presented.

At RIT, we have treasured the diverse contributions of members of these groups to our campus community, and I want to reassure all that one of RIT’s highest priorities is to demonstrate the extraordinary value of inclusive diversity and that we will continue to respect, appreciate, and benefit from the contributions of all. Anyone who feels unsafe here should make their feelings known to me and to others in a position to address their concerns. Concerned members of our community can also take advantage of opportunities to engage in open discourse about the election in the MOSAIC Center and at tomorrow’s Grey Matter discussion.” – Rochester Institute of Technology

Please go ahead and say these out loud to people around you if you mean them.  No matter how obvious and cheesy they sound, I assure you, they are not obvious and cheesy to those who are facing open threats, harassment, and violence. Let’s boost the signal; let’s make it loud; let’s make it overwhelming.

“I support all minorities and stand for diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

“I object to and will not condone the acts of harassment, violence, hatred, and threats directed at minorities.”

“I will not discriminate anyone based upon their ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, disability, political views, socio-economic backgrounds, or religious beliefs.”